By Ahmet Abdulaziz……..
History has always been one of my main favourite subjects. But not just to pass my exams when I was a student, but also because I feel thrilled while reading the events of the past.
But lately I have started thinking about what in fact history is.
History is said to be writing down the events as they happen. This can be the simplest definition, that we all know, but when we look around is this what we see? Unfortunately not. The reality of everything that’s happening around is engulfed and almost lost just due to the abundance of recording of the same events from different and even from the totally opposite angles.
Let me give you an example. Just think who won the Vietnam war! America? or Vietnam? or China? We simply cannot say, because each of them declares themselves as the winner.
Nowadays when we try to look for some event on the internet, we come across innumerable conflicting accounts of what’s happening around us. In fact we do know what is happening, as we are passing through it, but in the press we find different stories, different analysis, totally different statistical information and conclusions. Now, it usually becomes difficult for us to develop an opinion of our own, since too much information affects the quality of our opinion.
When this is the situation in the present modern, advanced and scientific world, where press is free and the means of information are too fast and too easily accessible, how far can one trust the history books written hundreds or thousands years ago. Are they free of bias? Do they carry correct information? This is the question that disturbs me frequently.
As is said, history has been written by the winners of wars. This is correct to a great extent, because it’s the winners who ask the historians to write what they want to be written by them. They financed the historians. Above all it’s only those writers who agreed to the terms of the rulers, that remained alive. On the other hand obviously those historians who tried to write something near to the real facts, were only patronised by the enemies of the winners. But they too in turn asked the writers to record the events in a way that would suit their own political strategies.
The problem does not end here. What about the history books that our children read in their schools? How many of them are unbiased? The fact is that throughout the world the official books of history usually follow the national goals. In some parts of the world the officially prescribed history books represent the official religious views of that particular society.
How many of the students try themselves to carry out research and investigate the historical events as written in the history books? How many of the students try to challenge the officially written history books? There may be some, but I know they are very few in numbers. Rather, the fact is that there are very few students who really study history just because they like history. Most of them study history as part of their syllabus, and care more of getting through it by getting some good marks, rather than taking a real interest in it.
So if nobody bothers, why should I bother. Let the history, as written in the books, make us believe that it represents the events as they happened, but a big question mark about the genuinity remains hanging in the air, which unfortunately no one sees and take for example the Da Vinci Code.
On Youtube there is a fine video with Tony Robinson in which he looks at claims and counter claims about the Da Vinci Code and the Holy Grail and I leave it to you to decide what is truth and what is fiction.